A tremendous step forward has occurred, according to US based scientists, in the hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Experts at Harvard University have used stem cells to create insulin-producing beta cells in large quantities. They have maintained that a potential major ‘medical breakthrough’ could be in sight, as tests on mice showed that the cells could potentially treat the disease.

The pancreas contains beta cells which pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels. Despite this, however, the body’s own immune system can counteract the beta cells and destroy them. This can result in people sustaining the fatal disease because they are unable to regulate their blood sugar levels.

The team at Harvard is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells using stem cell technology. A formulation of chemicals has been used to transform embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells.

John Kyriacou, partner in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, said: “This is extremely positive news. More research will be undertaken with the aim of carrying out human transplantation trials using the cells within a few years. However, while this represents a significant development in the field, a great deal of work and testing will still need to be done in order to reach the goal of treating all diabetics.”